Information Sciences & Technology Degrees: Associate, Bachelor & Online Info

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What will you learn in an information sciences and technology degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of associate's and bachelor's degrees and potential careers.
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Studying Information Sciences and Technology Degrees at a Glance

Information sciences and technology degree programs prepare students for careers as computer systems managers, network administrators, technical support specialists and information security analysts, among others. In this industry, educational requirements range from a high school diploma to a master's degree, depending on the nature of the work. For example, help desk and customer service jobs generally require at an associate's degree, while security analyst careers typically require a bachelor's or master's degree. Applicants with a bachelor's degree and a strong technical background should have the best job opportunities.

Because an information sciences and technology degree can lead to careers in a variety of fields, occupational outlooks will vary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), from 2010-2020, employment of network and computer systems administrators was expected to grow by 28%, while employment of computer and information systems managers was expected to grow by 18%, due to corporate IT upgrades.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this Degree for? - People who want entry-level careers in information sciences and technology
- Students who want to prepare for a bachelor's degree program
- Experienced professionals who are seeking development and advancement opportunities
- People who are new to the field of information services and technology
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Computer support specialists ($51,800)* - Information security analysts, Web developers and computer network architects ($82,000)*
- Network and computer systems administrators ($74,000)*
- Computer systems analysts ($126,000)*
Time to Completion Typically two years full time Typically four years full time
Common Graduation Requirements - Complete coursework (approximately 60-70 credits)
- Maintain GPA standards
- Complete coursework (approximately 120 credits)
- Maintain GPA standards
Prerequisites - Typically a high school diploma or equivalent
- Placement exams
- Provide SAT/ACT test scores, if applicable
- Internet and computer access
- High school diploma or undergraduate transcripts
- Meet GPA requirements
- Provide SAT/ACT test scores
- Personal statement
- Internet and computer access
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Information Sciences and Technology Associate's Degrees

In an associate degree program, you learn valuable computer technology and information services skills. In a typical program, you'll also learn to develop, install and repair computer systems, maintain network security and research emerging technologies and processes.

Typically, associate degree programs are intended to prepare students for entry-level careers or for further education, such as a bachelor's degree program. Because technology is constantly evolving, students may also enroll in associate's programs to continue their education and become skilled in new equipment and processes. Accredited academic institutions generally offer an Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) degree in information services and technology, which require approximately 60 academic credit hours.

Pros and Cons


  • If you think you might pursue a higher degree at some point, you may be able to transfer credits from an associate's program to a bachelor's degree program.
  • If you are unsure about pursuing a career in information sciences and technology, an associate's degree program can enable you to test your interest and skill level.
  • Careers in customer service (including help desk workers) typically require a high school diploma or associate's degree.


  • Most careers in information sciences and technology require applicants to have a bachelor's degree.
  • Students with an associate's degree may find that career options are limited and not as lucrative as jobs that require a bachelor's degree.
  • It may not be practical to pursue an associate's degree first if you know you will eventually pursue a bachelor's degree.

Common Courses and Requirements

In an associate's degree program, you will learn the principles of computing and information services. In addition to a program's core courses, you generally need to complete general education courses and some business-focused courses. Many programs incorporate a lab requirement, where students can demonstrate the skills they learn in class.

Students who pursue an online associate's degree in information sciences and technology graduate with the fundamental knowledge of development, programming and maintenance of computer and information systems. Coursework for this degree may include:

  • Introduction to computer languages
  • Basic applied statistics
  • Introduction to information security
  • Networking essentials
  • Networking administration

Online Degree Options

Many individual information technology courses and distance learning degrees are available online. Courses are aimed at both students who are interested in pursuing an associate's or bachelor's degree and those who are experienced professionals wanting to expand their current skill sets. Students who are interested in online information sciences and technology degrees should thoroughly research programs to ensure they are accredited by the U.S. Department of Education or one of its accrediting agencies.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Since work experience is important to potential employers, students would be wise to consider pursuing professional experiences while enrolled in school. Students who are looking for professional opportunities can volunteer or work at on-campus computer labs. Alternatively, students can pursue local freelancing opportunities to gain valuable experience. In addition to gaining practical work experience, you will learn how to work with clients and be able to show potential employers a portfolio or work samples and references.

Information Sciences and Technology Bachelor's Degrees

A bachelor's degree is required for most advertising positions and related careers in information sciences and technology. Typically, students pursue degrees in information technology, computer information systems or a related major.

The format of a degree program varies with each school, but most require approximately 120 academic credit hours in topics such as computer programming, networking and systems design. Some bachelor's degree programs may require students to obtain a minor in a related field or complete supplementary courses in business. Most require some technology lab work, as well.

Pros and Cons


  • Most information technology careers require at least a bachelor's degree and a significant amount of relevant work experience.
  • Information sciences and technology positions are required in nearly every industry, including healthcare, government and education.
  • Students who plan to continue their studies in their graduate school are well-poised for admission; competitive master's degree programs typically require a bachelor's degree in a relevant field.


  • Professional experience is very important to employers, and it can be challenging to land your first relevant job even with a bachelor's degree.
  • You may be in competition with master's degree holders, particularly for positions in management.
  • Network administrators and support staffs may have to work long or unusual hours to ensure that systems are running properly.

Common Courses and Requirements

Students can expect a variety of courses in business, management and computer systems in a typical bachelor's degree program. Sample courses may include system architecture, telecommunications, database systems, system security, knowledge management and financial planning.

Students who want to pursue an information sciences and technology bachelor's degree may need to complete some prerequisite courses to gain admission into their school's information technology program. Typically, students need to obtain a grade of 'C' or better in perquisite math and science courses.

Online Degree Options

Students interested in pursuing a bachelor's degree in information sciences and technology will find that online course options are widely available. Some schools offer a handful of relevant online courses to supplement their traditional on-campus curriculum, while others offer bachelor's degree programs are entirely online. Continuing education courses are also widely available on online, particularly ones targeting working professionals or people who want to advance their careers.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Students can stand out in several ways with a bachelor's degree in information sciences and technology:

  • Additional certifications are one possible way to show potential employers that you are a multitalented, well-rounded worker. Also, because technology is continually evolving, certifications are a way to keep up with the latest developments. Certification programs are usually provided by technology/software firms (such as Microsoft) to show mastery in their products or service offerings.
  • Some programs allow students to specialize in a minor or concentration that particularly interests them, such as healthcare technology or information security. Extra coursework may be required, but specialization allows you to enter niche markets for which you may not otherwise be qualified.

Degree Alternatives

According to the BLS, some employers may prefer applicants who have a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Information Systems. This degree typically requires two additional years of study after a bachelor's degree and teaches business and management skills as well as technology coursework. Obtaining a master's degree is also a way to potentially fast-track advancement within your current career path, versus accumulating 5-10 years of professional experience.

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